Jay Cutler, Bears
While it’s far past the time to be coming to the realization that Mike Martz isn’t going to turn Cutler into a Kurt Warner fantasy god (mostly due to his horrendous supporting cast), he has looked very good over the past two weeks. In a Week 5 loss to the Lions, Cutler singlehandedly kept the Bears in the game until the fourth quarter, completing 28 of 38 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown, despite a woeful performance by the team’s offensive line. This week against the Vikings, he completed 21 of 31 passes for 267 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He’s protecting the ball and completing passes in the face of tremendous pressure and that’s keeping the Bears offense on the field.
Carson Palmer, Raiders
If Palmer was headed to the Bay Area, his image seems more in line with that of the 49ers but he will be wearing the Silver and Black beginning this Sunday. Of course, these are the new Raiders sans Al Davis so maybe a change is afoot in Raider Nation. Nah. When you are an unemployed former number one selection in the draft who has had a highly productive career, you definitely get a Moving Up when you find a new team. The Raiders have plenty of speedsters for Palmer to throw to. We will see how many weeks it takes him to shake off the rust.
Christian Ponder, Vikings
For dynasty leagues only.
Rex Grossman, Redskins
Looks like Bad Rex has reappeared and Good Rex has gone missing. After throwing for 1,686 yards and 12 touchdowns with 7 interceptions over his first six starts with the Redskins, Grossman has imploded over the last two weeks. In games against the Rams and Eagles, he has thrown for 286 yards and one touchdown with 6 interceptions, including four this week. On Wednesday, head coach Mike Shanahan will announce the Redskins starting quarterback for Washington’s Week 7 matchup against the Panthers. I’m announcing now that you don’t want him in your starting fantasy line up anytime soon.
Donovan McNabb, Vikings
Another struggling veteran signal caller, McNabb found out today he’s headed to the bench. McNabb wasn’t horrible this week, completing 19 of 24 passes for 177 yards but he isn’t making any big plays, witness his four touchdown passes in six games.
Earnest Graham, Buccaneers
Starting in place of the injured LeGarrette Blount, Graham looked solid against the Saints, gaining 109 yards on 17 carries and adding two receptions for 22 yards. Speculation on Blount’s absence from a sprained MCL in his left knee has ranged from two to six weeks and third string running back Gregg Lumpkin had just two touches this week. With the Bucs having a Week 8 bye, Graham rates as a low end RB2 for this week’s game against the Bears.
Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
After a disappointing first four games to the season (58 carries for 173 yards and two touchdowns) and being inactive due to a hamstring injury, Mendenhall had his best game of the season this week against the Jaguars. He put up 146 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries and looked rejuvenated in the Steelers 17-13 win. The Steelers remaining schedule gets interesting starting this week with five matchups against run defenses ranked 9th or better and four matchups against teams with run defenses ranked 18th or lower. It might just be feast or famine for Mendenhall owners for the balance of the fantasy season.
Donald Brown, Colts
Both Joseph Addai and Colts management have described his hamstring injury as “minor” and “day to day”. Yet he basically ruled himself out of the Colts Week 6 matchup against the Bengals very early last week. So, maybe he’s out for a few weeks but maybe not. What we do know is that it probably won’t be long before he’s out again with some other ailment … or maybe the same one. Either way, Brown has looked better than rookie 4th round pick Delone Carter. Over the past two weeks, Brown has 13 rushes for 73 yards and a touchdown while Carter has run the ball 26 times for 67 yards and a score. Maybe, just maybe Brown is ready to prove the Colts didn’t make a horrendous decision when they made him the 27th overall selection in the 2009 rookie draft.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
What’s he done? Nothing. Unless 71 yards on 24 carries is your idea of production. What can we expect over the next two weeks with Felix Jones out with a high ankle sprain? Maybe something. The schedule works in the favor of Murray owners as he figures to get the starting assignment and plenty of touches in a home game against the Rams (worst run defense in the league) followed by a road contest against the Eagles (24th ranked run defense). Sometimes you get lucky, folks, and this is one of those examples.
Maurice Morris, Lions
Looks like Jahvid Best is out with another concussion, his second in 2011, and that makes Morris the man in the Lions backfield. He ain’t pretty but he’s going to be getting some touches in the Lions surprisingly productive offense.
Editor’s Note: The Lions have traded RB Jerome Harrison to the Eagles for RB Ronnie Brown. Morris should still be the main ball carrier in Week 7 with Brown used in a minimal role.
C.J. Spiller, Bills
Looks like the Spiller will be player taking the place of injured Donald Jones in the Bills offense. He regularly lined up as a receiver outside during the Bills 27-24 loss to the Giants this week, catching all five of his targets for 39 yards. That makes him an interesting bye week fill in PPR leagues that employ a flex position.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots
Seven touches in Week 6 and three this week. So much for the notion that Ridley was ready to steal the starting role away from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who has 43 touches for 218 total yards and a touchdown over the last two weeks.
Reggie Bush, Dolphins
Felix Jones, Cowboys
Hurt. Again. Sometimes this job isn’t so tough.
Mark Ingram, Saints
I feel bad piling on a rookie but his fantasy stats are so misleading that I feel it’s my job to set the record straight on Ingram. Has he been successful running the ball? No. But he’s scored three touchdowns despite averaging a paltry 3.4 yards per carry running behind the best guard tandem in the league. Has he been productive catching the ball? No, unless 3.3 yards per reception is your idea of explosive. Ingram. First round pick. No explosive plays.
Arrelious Benn, Bucs
With Mike Williams suffering through a sophomore slump, Benn has become the Bucs big play receiver in 2011. The only problem is that he’s not getting enough targets to make many big plays. This week, he caught three of his six targets for 83 yards including a 65-yard touchdown. Two weeks ago on Monday Night Football, he had an amazing 62 yard catch and run touchdown called back because he stepped out of bounds prior to catching the ball. Oops. Let’s suppose he didn’t make that brain cramp. Then Benn would have 12 receptions for 234 yards and a pair of scores over his last three games. You just get the feeling that this guy is ready to make good on the promise the Bucs saw him when they took him in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft.
Devin Hester, Bears
Is Hester finally becoming the consistent threat the Bears envisioned when they made him a full time wide receiver and handed him a $10-million a year contract and a starting job? With five receptions on seven targets in each of the last two weeks, he just might be. He’s totaled 123 yards and a score over the Bears past two games and leads the Bears receivers in targets. Looks like Hester is the Bears wide receiver to own.
A.J. Green, Bengals
Is this guy a legit WR1 six games into his rookie season? I’m ready to anoint him as such. Let’s tally up the positives. Double-digit fantasy points in five of six games? Check. Team’s top wide receiver? Check. Amazing athletic ability? Check. Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs? Nada. It’s all there, folks. Six games, 29 receptions for 453 yards and four touchdowns with a nifty 15.6 average yards per reception. Let’s call him a low end WR1 for the balance of 2011.
Jason Hill, Jaguars
Am I totally committed? Hardly. But Hill is shaping up as decent bye week filler with 11 receptions for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns over the past two games. If you’re in a deep league and have bye week issues, Hill isn’t a ridiculous option, hard as it is for me to type that.
Mike Sims-Walker, Rams
It’s the penthouse to the outhouse for Sims-Walker. Signed to be the Rams number one wide receiver shortly after the lockout ended, Sims-Walker has been a bust for St. Louis with just one decent game over the team’s first four games (a six reception outing against the Giants in Week 2). After a two-drop performance in Week 4 (the Rams had a Week 5 bye), Sims-Walker was a pre-game inactive this week against the Packers. Danario Alexander, rookie Greg Salas and Brandon Gibson all played in Week 6 and with the Rams sitting at 0-5 and not contending for a playoff spot out and Brandon Lloyd on the way to town, Sims-Walker was unceremoniously handed his walking papers on Monday and lands back with his former team in Jacksonville. Stay away.
Austin Collie, Colts
Last year, Collie caught an amazing 80.6% of his targets. This year, he’s caught just 37.1% of his targets, an equally amazing total for a slot receiver. Which goes to show you that amazing cuts both ways. I’m guessing that the drop off from Peyton Manning to the combo of Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter isn’t the only reason for the huge decline in Collie’s play. There’s basically no reason to keep Collie on your roster.
Lance Moore, Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson, Saints
With Marquis Colston back in the line up and Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles playing lights out, there just aren’t enough touches to go around in New Orleans. This week, Moore got three looks while Meachem and Henderson had two each. Last week, they split 12 targets. Unless one of these three emerges, I’m planting them all on my bench.
Dallas Clark, Colts
Tammy Wynette sang “Stand By Your Man” and that’s what I’m doing with Clark, Okay, not really since I had him Moving Down last week. However, he put together his best game of the season this week against the Bengals, catching six of seven targets for 53 yards and his second touchdown of the season. He seems to be on the same page as quarterback Curtis Painter and, just as importantly, the Colts offensive line seems to be holding up better, lessening the need for Clark to stay in to block.
Vernon Davis, 49ers
Just the numbers, baby, just the numbers. Let’s look at average targets per game for Davis. In 2009 when he had a career year with 965 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, it was 8.1. Last year, with the 49ers struggling on offense, it was 5.8. This year, his targets were expected to go back up with new head coach Jim Harbaugh bringing his version of the West Coast offense to the 49ers but they are down once again to 4.7 per game. Targets equal opportunity and whether it’s by design or because of declining skills, Davis is becoming a smaller part of the 49ers offense and that is hurting his fantasy value.